Escape To Freedom What is a good life and what is the path to achieving it? A good life could be a life of richness or of health. The term “a good life” is compatible with diverse people. Many philosophers have come up with ideas to explain the road to happiness. In this essay, we will discuss Stoic philosophy on the way to achieve a good life.
Technology addiction is a serious condition. There are ways to stop and prevent these kinds of addictions.
Technology can be a good tool if used properly. I believe the Stoics are accurate that we do need to escape to freedom from our desires for a happy life. Hedonism is the view that pleasure is the only or highest intrinsic good. It is what we live for. Everything that we do is just a tool to achieve pleasure.
For example, a person would go through years of school so they could have a high paying job.
By making a lot of money, that person could use it to get things that would bring them pleasure. There are two kinds of pleasure, sensual pleasure and virtuous pleasure. Sensual pleasure is the pleasure of sensation or immediate pleasure. Virtuous pleasure is enjoyment, the positive attitude one has an event or experience. Hedonism is helpful in the sense that pleasure is versatile and subjective to each person. That means that a lot of people will be able to have pleasure. The strength of Hedonism is also that it assures at least pleasure is essential to a good life. Stoicism is a branch of Hedonism.
Stoicism is the school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge and that the wise live in harmony with nature, and are indifferent to the uncertainties of fortune and to pleasure and pain. Seneca is a Roman Stoic philosopher. Seneca said, “… it must be attentive to all the advantages to adorn life, but with overmuch love or none – the user, but no the slave, of the gifts of Fortune”. He is saying that we should enjoy the gifts that fortune brings but not be dependent on those gifts. Seneca believes that we should escape desires to internal peacefulness. When we are not bothered by anything, we will be able to feel pleasure from the smallest thing, but not sad when we do not have it. To live a life, indifference to fortune, one must follow the guidance of nature. We are different from other animals in that we have reason and rational freedom. In a sense, we can control our mind and body instincts.
For example, an animal would run away from something that would hurt them, like a hot iron stick. Humans can fight that instinct and stand against the threat. Fear and passion trouble our mind and decision making. For example, drug addicts are controlled by their need or craving for drugs. They are no longer in control. To live a good life, one must get rid of their unnecessary passions. So, Seneca said that to be free, one must follow the guidance of nature. But humans have so many different characters. Human nature could be passion, love, desires, and so on. Seneca says that there is a hierarchy of our natural properties. We have an inclination for moral and rational behavior. We have a tendency to act to advance our goals and interests. Temperance is self-restraint, it is a disciplined way to approach pleasure. Wanting to experience pleasure is natural to all animals. But as Seneca said, there is a hierarchy of human natural properties, and temperance is higher than passion. But, most of the time, people let passion win over self-control. Epicurus was a citizen of Athens, where he established his school and wrote some extensively on philosophy.
Epicurus believes that one must be free of passions and live a virtuous life to reach tranquility. It is not easy to get there, one must work hard to rid themselves of their passions and fears. He said, “when we do not feel pain, we no longer need pleasure. And for this cause, we call pleasure the beginning and end of the blessed life”. We are much calmer to deal with whatever comes our way when there is no fear of unhappiness. We can also enjoy whatever happiness that comes but are not unhappy when we do not have it anymore. Tranquility is a deep, constant state of happiness because one’s mind is not disturbed. Seneca and Epicurus are not from the same place, but they have similar ideas on how to live life with the most pleasure. They both think that we need to be free from our desires for a good life. Two different philosophers, both believe in freedom from desires, then I think it is important.
One of the human natures is passion, to have desires. One example of a strong passion that has a negative effect on our level of happiness is technology addiction. In the article “Smartphone use and smartphone addiction in middle school students in Korea: Prevalence, social networking service, and game use” by Seong-Soo Cha and Bo-Kyung SEO, they did an experiment to examine smartphone use patterns and smartphone addiction characteristics. Smartphone addiction could be categorized as a behavioral addiction, such as Internet addiction. Behavioral and chemical addictions have seven core symptoms in common, that is, salience, tolerance, mood modification, conflict, withdrawal, problems, and relapse. This shows that this is a serious problem.
Most people in the world have gotten used to the use of smartphones and the internet so smartphone addiction seems unreal. But it is as serious as any drug addictions, or even more serious. Smartphone addiction is considered as the inability to control the smartphone use despite negative effects on users. The use of a smartphone not only produces pleasure and reduces feelings of pain and stress, but also leads to failure to control the extent of use despite significant harmful consequences in financial, physical, psychological, and social aspects of life. Adolescents would be more at risk of smartphone addiction as compared with adults because adolescents are yet to develop self-control in smartphone use. Adolescents with working parents could be at a risk of smartphone addiction, possibly because such children could not be cared for by their parents after school and they would use smartphones without any rules and guidance. Smartphone addiction affects physical and psychological health.
Excessive smartphone use at night could keep one awake till late, thus impairing sleep and influencing stress and depression. The negative effects of smartphone overuse on physical health include cancer; brain tumor; nervous disturbances; weakening of the immune system; problems with the eardrum; pain in the wrist, neck, and joints; fatigue; and sleep disorders. The overuse of the smartphone causes health problems, but the deprivation of a smartphone can also cause health problems. For instance, smartphone addicts were reported to feel distressed when deprived of their smartphone for some time, and adolescents exhibited anxiety, depression, anger, and sleep disturbances when their smartphones were switched off. Smartphone addiction was not related to gender, family income, or parents’ education. That means a very wide range of people can be affected by this addiction. An example is my cousin. She is four years old and she has her own smartphone and can use it better than I can. This is concerning because, at that age, she should be reading children’s books and playing with toys that could help develop critical thinking skills. Instead, she is watching YouTube videos all day.
There are many positive and negative properties to the internet and smartphones. Thanks to the internet, it is possible to chat with someone on the other side of the world in real time. Businesses can hold global video conferences instead of paying for people flying in for meetings. People can start with a good idea and expand it to a global audience from a home computer. We can communicate cheaper and easier with one another more than ever. Things are done digitally and much faster. The internet allows us to access information from all over the globe and many of them are free. We can become active about anything we are passionate about.
Social media has allowed people to connect with others from all around the world. There are as many as cons to the internet as its pros. The amount of personal information being shared on the internet is so enormous that personal privacy is at risk. It’s not just identity theft that is an issue, but life dangering situations can occur. For example, Kim Kardashian West had jewelry stolen from her in Paris because of the amount of information that was being shared. Internet dependence can lessen productivity. Many of my friends search answers to homework online rather than actually do it themselves. There are multiple expenses not often considered with the internet. It is often hard to control budget with a credit card being used with just a press of a button. Exploitation is a very real problem. Actions like revenge porn can be very damaging to its victims or ransomware is another threat, where hackers gain control of specific files and refuse to release them without paying a ransom. Being able to connect to a wide range of people could also lead to internet bullying. Many people are addicted to their phones and cannot set it down. This can be a problem when driving, it could cause accidents that can be easily avoided. There are so many advantages of technology so there should be some ways to prevent and stop technology addiction.
Dealing with technology and phone addiction is as serious as dealing with drug addictions. First, an addict must realize that they are addicted and want to change. Then, set a certain amount of time that they can be on the phone. Say “I don’t” check my phone for an hour rather than say “I can’t” check my phone for an hour. “Don’t” is a declarative statement showing that they are determined. “Can’t” sounds like an external force are making the person stop the action and it will not be motivating, which will not last through hardships. We do not always need our phone next to us all day, so keep it out of reach when you do not need it. And when you need it nearby, turn off all non-essential functions. A habit is really hard to change, then maybe we can replace it with a better habit. Try grabbing a book every time you reach for the phone.
Family and friends are always ready to help. Surround yourself with people that care about your well being. They will be able to motivate you. They can intervene when you are stuck in a time loop of binge-watching videos after videos. I believe that the Stoics are right to a certain point. As seen from the example above, desires can have a negative effect. For those with poor self-control, desire is serious. They get too caught up in it wanting more and end up suffering for that. Addiction can dictate a person’s life. If it’s serious, the person is prevented from doing any other activities. A person with low temperance will let their desires win. It is very hard to resist temptations because it is all around us. For the example of technology addiction, technology is in every aspect of our lives.
We use smartphones and computers constantly for work or social reasons. For example, most of my homework is online. Even writing this paper requires me to be on my computer. I cannot say that I purely was focused on my assignment. I was distracted by YouTube, Netflix, and listening to music. In the end, I was determined enough to make me stop and come back to my assignment. I set a goal for myself and at one point, I have to be able to say, “enough with the distractions, I must finish this.” The determination is an important factor in Seneca’s philosophy. Without determination, one cannot rid themselves of desires.
In conclusion, the Stoics believe that we need to escape to freedom from desires. Seneca believed that we should follow nature to do so. Desires can turn into addictions, which control one’s life. That person would not be able to do other activities, therefore lowering the amount of pleasure. Also, when one is deprived of that desire, one will not only not experience pleasure, but also could be experiencing pain. I think the philosophy of the Stoics is right.